Cluster munitions have a "wide-area effect", which makes them inherently inaccurate when used. Moreover, unexploded duds lying around form a life-threatening hazard for civilians long after conflict.
The UN family of agencies, in its work on the ground, has come across many types of cluster munitions. From its experience, all types of cluster munitions used so far cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
Until recently, many Governments considered cluster munitions indispensable to their military policies, but a growing number of them have been open to the arguments that such policy and practice were not in concurrence with international obligations and could jeopardize recovery and development efforts.
In 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted by over 100 countries. They agreed to a complete ban of this weapon.
Under the terms of the Convention, a number of responsibilities have been entrusted to the Secretary-General of the UN, including:
- Collection and dissemination of transparency reports by and to the States parties;
- Facilitation of clarification of compliance;
- Convening of the Meetings of States Parties.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General is "requested to render the necessary assistance and to provide such services as may be necessary to fulfil the tasks entrusted to him by the Convention on Cluster Munitions".